Nyasa Big Bullets began the defense of their TNM Super League with a goalless draw at home to Blue Eagles in the opening match of the 2020-21 Super League season played at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Bullet coach Kalisto Pasuwa was without Chimango Kaira who is injured and Peter Banda who is bereaved and some notable faces, including Chiukepo Msowoya, Patrick Phiri, Righteous Banda and Dalitso Sailesi while Eagles started their life without Schumacher Kuwali who joined UD Songo of Mozambique.
The hosts struggled to control the match as the midfield trio of Aziz Mwakifuna, Mike Mwate and Chimwemwe Idana failed to outnumber the visitors’ midfield of Gabriel Chirwa and Gad Chirwa who were making things happen for the Area 30 based side.
The first half belonged to the visitors who nearly scored in the 15th minute when Maxwell Salambura combined well with Gad Chirwa to find John Malidadi who saw his shot well saved by Ernest Kakhobwe for a corner.
Moments later, it was Salambura’s turn but his effort inside the six-yard box was once again well saved by Kakhobwe.
The hosts were forced to make an early change as Zicco Mkanda was stretched out for Bright Munthali.
Eagles were enjoying possession and kept on pressing through Micium Mhone and Gilbert Chirwa but finding the back of the net proved too difficult for the Eagles who were looking more lively than the defending champions.
Kakhobwe was forced to make another save when Chirwa’ effort was tipped over the cross bar for a corner.
The visitors thought they had scored a goal only to be denied by referee Evidence Kananji who penalised Malidadi for a push on Kakhobwe.
Bullets’ realistic chance came towards the end of the half when Gomezgani Chirwa made his run into the box only to see his low cross pass missed by every Bullets player who was in the box.
Another chance fell to Precious Sambani after he combined well with Mcfallen Mgwira but the former saw his shot well blocked by the visitors.
In the second half, Chisomo Chilasa and Stuart Mbunge came in for Micium Mhone and Salambura as Eagles tried to find a breakthrough for the important goal.
However, this half belonged to Bullets. The hosts were pressing for goals and they almost scored when Mkwate made his way into the offensive half to find Hassan Kajoke on the edge of the box but the forward saw his shot well blocked by the Eagles’s defenders.
Moments later, Ngwira forced John Soko from making another save but there was nobody with a red shirt to make a simple finish as the visitors cleared the danger away.
Bullets’ Pasuwa brought in Henry Kabichi and Nelson Kangunje for Mkwate and Mwakifuna while Chifuniro Mpinganjira and Grant Zakumbuyo came in for Malidadi and Gad Chirwa.
In the 83rd minute, a long ball from Mgwira found Sambani to the left flank who wasted no time by sending a cross into the box to Kangunje who slipped to blast his effort wide off Soko’s goal.
The last chance of the match fell to Mpinganjira who saw Kakhobwe out of his line but instead of shooting at goal, he wasted too much time on the ball and sent his effort inches away from the goal posts and after 90 minutes of play, goalless it ended.
The result means Bullets has failed to win their opening game at home for the first time in four years.
The last time Bullets failed to win an opening match was in 2016 when they played to a goalless draw against Moyale Barracks.
In other matches, Mighty Tigers were 2-1 winners over TN Stars at Mpira Village Stadium.
Martin Nsewa and Tony Mbulu find the back of the net for the hosts while Trouble Banda scored the visitors’ consolation goal.
At Mzuzu Stadium, Zeliat Nkhoma scored the only goal of the match and the quickest goal of the 2020/21 season to inspire Kamuzu Barracks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the newly promoted Ekwendeni Hammers in a match where the hosts missed a penalty.
At Chitowe, Mafco FC and Red Lions played out to a 1-draw. Peter Katsonga scored for the hosts while Stainley Duwe scored for the visitors.
At Karonga Stadium, Bakilinyo Mwakanyongo cancelled out a Mathews Sibale’s goal to earn a point from their match against Savenda Chitipa United.
The action continued on Sunday when Mzuzu Warriors takes on Mighty Be Forward Wanderers at Mzuzu Stadium while Ntopwa FC will entertain Moyale Barracks at Kamuzu Stadium.
The highlight of the day will see Civil Sporting Club hosting Silver Strikers at Civo Stadium.
Currently, Tigers lead the standings with three points seconded by Kamuzu Barracks with the same number of points.